The Saga of Miles Forrest

Did you show Abrams this telegram?” I barked at Fitzer.
    “Well, uh, uh, not exactly,” he stammered.
    “Not exactly!  Now what does that mean?”
    He was visibly sweating, his eyes went to the barrel of the Greener even though I hadn’t threatened him with it.  “I told him what it said,” he murmured weakly.  
    “He just said he thought he’d ride out to meet him,” replied Fitzer.
    Now I did slam the Greener down on the counter and when it smacked I thought he was going to jump out of his britches. “How far?”
    “Oh, from when I received the telegram, probably two hours,” he said meekly.
    “When did Abrams leave?
    His eyes now darting from mine to the barrels of the shotgun.  “Close to fifteen minutes ago.”
    “Listen you little weasel, I’m goin’ to see that you’re in a cell so deep in Canon City that they’ll never find you!”  I exclaimed then rushed out toward the livery.
    Without a glance at the hostler I had my horse saddled and ready to mount in a few minutes.  There was no time to lose.  I rode out from the livery when I saw Cora.  Reining in next to where she was standing, I leaned down toward her.  “Cora, tell Marshal Blasco that I’m ridin’ to catch Abrams.  Now!  Pronto!”
    I spurred my horse harder than usual since he was a strange mount to me.  Riding hard down those tracks I was wishing that I was on either Hawk or Star.  I trusted their eyesight, this one, I just had to pray, ride, and hold on.  I knew I couldn’t keep up this pace, so I slowed to a trot.  I didn’t figure that Abrams would be pushing his horse any.  It didn’t matter to him when he came up to Martin.
    Since I had rode hard at the beginning I reckoned I was only minutes behind him.  There was an outcropping of rocks ahead where the tracks started to make a bend.  It was there I heard the shots.  I slowed down as I neared the rocks then dismounted tying the reins to a bush.  As quietly as possible I walked around the rock.  I heard conversation, but could make nothing out of what was being said.
    There was a man, over between two rocks.  If he wasn’t dead he was close to it.  I saw movement off to my left, saw Abrams and another man slowly moving from cover toward the man.
    “Stop right there!” I ordered  “You’re under arrest for the murder of a U.S. Marshal.”
    As I stepped toward them, I felt the sting along my neck, then heard the sound of the shot.  I cut loose with both barrels of the Greener, dropped then rolled to my left.  “Stupid, stupid, stupid,” I muttered.  Fool tenderfoot stunt.  Looking in front of me I saw that Abrams and the other man was down.  There was no movement.  I knew that off to my left and behind me was at least one more man, maybe more.
    There was a wetness and I reached up to feel blood on my collar.  That was a close one.  It wasn’t going to do me any good to lay here so that he could get a better position.  I started to move when I heard the shot….

                                        * * * *
    He tipped his hat when he came in the restaurant.  Walking toward where Molly was sitting, he was looking around.  “Looks like, Mrs. Forrest, that I’m going to have to shut you down,” said Marshal McCall calmly.
    “What you mean, shut us down?” shouted Marta who had heard him from the kitchen door.
    McCall nodded at her and smiled.  “This establishment does not meet the safety requirements as stated in the city ordinances.”
    “McCall, what is it that you’re after?” asked Molly, now standing.
    His grin increased, showing his teeth then he shrugged.  “Oh, a thing or two, but we’ll start with twenty-five dollars a month protection fee.”
    “Get out!” yelled Marta coming toward McCall with a meat cleaver in her hand.
    Pulling his gun, he pointed it at her.  “I’d hate to shoot a woman, but you take one more step and I’ll shoot.”
    “Marta!” thundered Molly.  “Stop!  Go get Charlie!”
    She rushed out, McCall holstered his gun, smiled again.  “Good, I’d much rather negotiate with you…”